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Original Research

Bullying perspectives among rural youth: a mixed methods approach

Submitted: 15 December 2007
Revised: 28 March 2008
Published: 12 May 2008

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Author(s) : Kulig JC, Hall BL, Grant Kalischuk R.

Judith KuligBarry HallRuth Grant Kalischuk

Citation: Kulig JC, Hall BL, Grant Kalischuk R.  Bullying perspectives among rural youth: a mixed methods approach. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 923. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=923 (Accessed 20 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Few studies have examined violence among rural youth even though it is recognized as a societal concern. A mixed method, descriptive study was conducted to examine violence among rural youth including their perceptions and experiences of it. This article focuses specifically on the perceptions and experiences of bullying among rural youth that were generated from the Qualitative Phase One interviews and Quantitative Phase Two responses.
Method:  A mixed method study was conducted in two separate phases. The information generated from the Qualitative Phase One (n = 52) was used to develop a survey instrument employed in the subsequent Quantitative Phase Two (n = 180). The youth who were involved in each phase lived in different geographic areas of a Western Canadian province. The qualitative phase generated a number of comments about the experience of being bullied or how it felt to be a bully. In the survey instrument, specific questions related to bullying were embedded within it. Demographic information was collected in both phases of the study. Research assistants were used to collect the data in each phase. The transcripts from the qualitative phase were analyzed for categories and themes. The survey instrument included demographic questions and seventy questions that included a four-point Likert scale. The data were analyzed using SPSS v14 (SPSS Inc; Chicago, IL, USA). For this article, the survey questions that focused on bullying were considered alongside the qualitative comments in order to more fully understand the perceptions and viewpoints of rural youth regarding this particular aspect of violence.
Results:  Conducting a mixed method study provides a more in-depth understanding of bullying among youth in the rural context. The pain and humiliation of being bullied provided a personalized understanding of the survey responses that indicated which youth are targets of bullying. For example, comments were made about being picked on because of personal characteristics such as being overweight or dressing in an unacceptable manner. In addition, bullies openly talked about the power they gained from their role. The frequency responses to the questions in the survey confirmed that bullies obtain power from their behavior and that youth who are different are bullied. The participants also noted that something needed to be done to address bullying but remarked that they would not seek professionals’ help.
Discussion: The findings negate the myth that rural places are ideal places to raise children. Although the youth did not identify that they would access professionals, it is important for members of rural communities to acknowledge bullying, its impacts and how they can prevent it. Working from the social structure of rural communities is a first step in this process.
Conclusion:  Rural communities will benefit as a whole if bullying, an important societal concern, is addressed. Building on the social structure of rural communities is important, However, listening to rural youth themselves is the key if true change is to be implemented.

Key words:  bullying, mixed methods, multimethods, rural youth, youth violence.

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